I made a TON of progress this week on my toys, while also struggling to make some major decisions
I finished painting and printing the first 3 final toys. It took my a very long time to come up with the paint and color scheme I wanted to go with and they're not exactly where I thought I would end up, but I'm happy with the results.
Meet Mari, inspired by the Mariana Fruit Bat - an endangered species of bat residing in the Mariana Islands. It has recently been declared extinct in the US.
The inverted color scheme of Mari, inspired by a rare genetic mutation that causes albinism in fruit bats.
Rainbow Mari was an idea that my partner had inspired by the iconic marching bears associated with the band Grateful Dead. Mari's rainbow color scheme pairs well with her trippy eye design.
Last we have the flocked black and white variant. Originally this was going to be printed in a transparent material to symbolize the steep decline of bats in general over the recent years. However there wasn't a ton of time to get that working properly, so I opted for a colorless version (save for the green eyes).
fully 360 video render of Mari's default coloring
Above you can see a slideshow of the complete prints. I'm missing a foot for the the white version of Mari, I think I left it at work or it fell out of my bag. But 2 of the 4 are officially done. I did a test of the glossy acrylic pain and I'm not really happy with the results so I'm going to grab a matte top coat to remove some of the shine from surface of the plastic instead.
As you can see in the images above, this is my first successful attempt at flocking a 3D print. The first time I tried flocking a print, I used the wrong glue and the flocking didn't stick at all. This test was very successful. The print material is quite porous and took the proper adhesive and flocking very well but there are clearly spots where I missed applying the glue. I noticed too that some spots where I applied the glue dried very quickly but I was also working outside in the cold which could have sped up the drying time. I used the print above as a tester because it had some print failures as you can see around the ears and I had broken the wings during the cleaning process.
What I've learned so far about flocking 3D prints:
The glue is viscous and self-leveling so I do not need as much glue as I initially thought
I need to get some smaller brushes to apply glue in the areas that require more detail
I need to wear gloves
The fibers will get stuck inside the pores of the print, I need to mask off areas to prevent flocking from landing on non-glued areas because it's impossible to remove them
The flocking didn't photograph well in the images above. Black flocking may not photograph well period
Put a 15 minute timer on applying the flocking so I can take my time applying the glue.
If this wasn't enough, I also decided to design packaging for Mari. I had my heart set on creating heat formed plastic molds to suspend the bat in the box, but we didn't have a vacuum former that was large enough and I also didn't have the time to design and print the molds. So instead I decided to abandon the idea of a clear viewing window on the box where you could see Mari from the outside and instead focused my energy on the box design itself.
I didn't have a ton of time to get the boxes manufactured, so I went with a company Brand in Color that promised a 3 day turnaround and more affordable than the other companies I had initially researched. The downside is that you don't get any options for fancy coatings or materials - but as a prototype it should work great!
For the design itself I originally wanted to create a topographic wireframe map inside of a cave to visualize an echolocation effect, which is how bats can see objects in the dark.
I spent way too much time trying to render this out of various programs such as Maya and Unity. However I didn't really like anything I came up with and it all looked too busy.
So I went back to the drawing board and went with a flat color-scheme reminiscent of Mari's design. Since fruit bats like to live in cavern-like environments I decided to create a nice cave-like drawing in illustrator.
The full-box renders are from the company website. I wanted Mari to be upside-down when you look at the front of the box, which is why the top lid looks like that. Hopefully they look good when they finally arrive!